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Forgotten Space Program

Cydonian Monk

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Forgotten Space Program


Latest Post: 2021-07-07 - Legitimate Salvage


It's happened again. Those well meaning kerbals ran off and completely forgot about their space program. Maybe there was a global crisis. Maybe they ran out of funds. Maybe the Kraken ate the ship Jeb and the Bs were in. Or maybe it was just snack time and the cheese dip was really, really good. Unfortunately nobody remembers what went wrong because nobody remembers being there. Space? Whazzat?

And so years pass. Eventually an eccentric millionaire stumbles on the ruins of the long-forgotten program. Trailers. Sheds. Run-down labs. A dirt runway. Factories scattered here and there in the nearby countryside. Exploding barrels of fleas. Sharp metal bits. Gumball machines. Nuclear waste. The usual rust of a long forgotten industry. A few quick phone calls and some thousand signatures later and The Boss became the owner of their very own space program. 

And that's when the fun started. 



Thread of the Month: May 2016


Table of Contents

Volume 1: Forgotten
Volume 1 Sequence 1
2015-12-03 - Forgotten Space Program, The Hydrogen Flights (this post)
2015-12-04 - Hydrogen's Last Blast, Noble Helium, Orbital Helium
2015-12-06 - Sweet Lithium, Beryllium Spheres, Boron to be Wild
2015-12-10 - The Age of the Universe, Boron Into The Mün, Beryllium Relic
2015-12-11 - Carbon Testing, The Carbon 6, Carbon 1
2015-12-16 - Carbon Scoring, High Carbon
2015-12-17 - The Dangers of C-4, Carbon For Who?, Beryllium-Coated Lies
2015-12-20 - More Boron Contract Missions..., :C=C:
2015-12-22 - 95 Years, 139 Days, 27 Minutes

Volume 1 Sequence 2
2015-12-24 - A Nitrogen One, Thing C
2015-12-26 - A Little More Nitrogen, And A Dash Of Oxygen
2015-12-29 - Fluorine 1
2016-01-01 - The Six Moons of Kerbin, Nitrogen T-4, Thing A
2016-01-02 - Fixing Kelgee, Walking on Thin Nitrogen, Nitrogen Take 6, More Fluorine For Better Teeth, Oxygen Perfected
2016-01-05 - Nitrogen T-7

Volume 1 Sequence 3
2016-01-11 - The Bright Bright Neon Lights, Neon Sizzle, Neon Clones, Under The Heavy Neon Glow
2016-01-12 - Delayed Return
2016-01-16 - Salty Minmus
2016-01-18 - Taking Pictures For Fun and Profit
2016-01-20 - Release!, Return to Flight
2016-01-23 - Asylum Run, ... By Lunatics, ... Running An Asylum
2016-01-25 - Ferry Ride
2016-01-28 - The Aluminium Gang, Aluminium X-0 1, Aluminium X-0A 2, Aluminium X-1 3
2016-01-31 - Strange Request
2016-02-02 - Sonic Sensei, The Mother Of All Space Telescopes, Nitrogen X
2016-02-04 - Aluminium Cans of Boom, Housekeeping
2016-02-06 - More Housekeeping

Volume 1 Sequence 4
2016-02-13 - Mission Improbable, Reduce Reuse Recycle, Nitrogen TC-12, Silly Silicon
2016-02-14 - Balanced Imbalance, Some Assembly Required
2016-02-16 - More Silicon More Recycling, Some More Assembly Required
2016-02-21 - Queen of the Airwaves, Tour of the Junkyard, Trafficking Hot Goods
2016-02-23 - A Phosphorescent Return to the Mün
2016-02-26 - Second Verse Same As The First, A Little Bit Louder And A Little More Rehearsed
2016-02-27 - Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Mün
2016-03-05 - Slow Moves, Nitrogen Transfers
2016-03-08 - Memories of Tomorrow

Volume 1 Sequence 5
2016-03-11 - The Mystic Mün
2016-03-19 - Operation Ice Castle
2016-03-20 - Contracting Smallprobes
2016-03-23 - Reentrant Aluminium
2016-03-28 - The Mün of Our Youth
2016-04-11 - The Crater of the First Kerbals

Volume 1 Sequence 6
2016-04-15 - Ghosts and Things
2016-04-18 - Memories of the Storm
2016-04-24 - Two Star Detour
2016-05-01 - Familiar Voices, Building Anticipation
2016-05-05 - Anticipation Building
2016-05-10 - Titanium Flight Test, Titanium Boxes, The Münquake is in Another Castle, Kerbal Kerbals
2016-05-14 - Stellar[is] Launches
2016-05-20 - Silicon Sulphur Snack Strategy
2016-05-28 - Finishing Touches
2016-05-30 - Little House on the Minty Prairie, And Another Thing...
2016-06-01 - Departures

Volume 1 Sequence 7
2016-06-05 - GLORY TO KERBIN!
2016-06-27 - Bugs
2016-07-10 - 99 Years, 343 Days, 2 Hours
2016-07-13 - Your Robots Are Ignoring You
2016-07-20 - Captain Kerman and... The Robot Invasion of Jool
2016-07-26 - Setting Up The Fireworks
2016-07-28 - One Hundred Years At The Edge Of Infinity, Thomlock's New Year's Rocket Eve, Infinity's Edge

Volume 1 Sequence 8
2016-08-07 - Answers In Time..., More Pieces For The Jumble
2016-08-14 - ... Time In Riddles
2016-08-14 - No Kerbal's Sky
2016-08-22 - Wings of Fire
2016-08-25 - Sulphur Descending

Volume 2: Continuum
Volume 2 Sequence 1
2016-10-03 - Somewhere In The Dark..., Kerbin: North Mountain
2017-10-07 - Continuing From Where We Started, Continuum

Volume 2 Sequence 2
2016-10-16 - Continuing From Where We Left Off
2016-10-20 - I Could Fly Here Forever
2016-10-30 - Fire In The Sky
2016-11-08 - The Jebediah Kerman, Remotely Controlled Kerbal
2016-11-26 - One Final Sunset, Leaving Laythe

Volume 2 Sequence 3
2016-12-04 - The Bosses, Ghost Attack, Data Recovery Services
2016-12-11 - Chrome Plated, Missing Minmus Mishap
2017-01-22 - Adaptation, Burning Manganese, Cobalt Testing, Iron Birdie
2017-01-31 - Iron Supplements, Manganese Mün
2017-02-10 - Cobalt Blue, The Award, Into The Unknown

Volume 2 Sequence 4
2017-02-25 - Infinite Departures
2017-04-16 - Finite Arrivals
2017-04-25 - As Is Only Fitting And Proper
2017-05-08 - Whispers

Volume 2 Sequence 5
2017-05-14 - Mission Report, Wooden Nickel
2017-05-23 - Crazy Talk, Manganese Station
2017-06-19 - Science Supplies / Lucidity / Downwards / Through Fire

Volume 2 Sequence 6
2017-07-03 - Ghosts On The Ice / The Other Side
2017-07-14 - Into The Abyss
2017-09-13 - The Hook
2017-10-19 - Out In The Cold
2017-10-23 - Late Arrival
2017-11-28 - Late Departure
2017-12-04 - Exit Vall, Stage Outwards / Pol-italicized Pol-lution
2018-01-31 - Children of Bop
2018-03-19: Where There's a Whip... / ...There's a Laythe
2018-03-27 - Will the Last One Leaving Jool... / ...Please Turn Off the Lights / Year 100, Day 336, Hour 2

Volume 2 Sequence 7
2018-07-16 - Shadows and Whispers / Nickel and Dimed
2018-07-24 - Council of Copper / Another Nickel's Worth
2018-08-03 - Controlling Copper / Supplying Chaos
2018-08-12 - Project Copper / Culpa de Cuprum
2018-08-19 - Copper Loss
2018-09-16 - Titanium: The Next Generation
2018-12-03 - Where We Left Off / Copper Gains / Friendly Warning
2019-05-08 - Planning Pioneers / Living with Copper / Copper 12
2019-05-27 - Copper Supply
2019-06-09 - Titanium Y-6 / Iron Transfer
2019-06-12 - Iron Enrichment / Titanium Y-7 / More Irons on the Fire
2019-06-18 - Titanium Sky

2019-07-22 - Interlude - Course Correction

Volume 2 Sequence 8
2019-07-30 - Alone on Duna
2020-12-03 - 28 Days Earlier / Ghosts and Stuff
2021-07-07 - Legitimate Salvage

(Shift + Enter. NOT Crtl + Enter. Shift + Enter.)


In something of a departure from my usual routine, this will be a mod-"heavy" playthrough focusing largely on the wonderful Engineering Tech Tree. Expect frequent and smaller posts, usually the same day of the mission or a very short time later. I will attempt to keep this save going for the indefinite future, but can make no promises that I won't forget what I've done and start over again. Again. And, seeing as none of the kerbals know what's out there, we may see some relics and wrecks from my previously forgotten space programs. :wink: 

Difficulty is my usual fare, a Career Mode game with the normal difficulty settings, no crew respawn, etc: 


Mods in Use (as/of KSP v1.4.5)
Note: Many parts from mods not listed (or listed under previous versions) are still present on spacecraft, in flight, but are "retired" and have been edited (by me) so they no longer appear in the VAB.

Older Mods in Use (for previous KSP v1.3.1)

Older Mods in Use (for previous KSP v1.2.2)

Older Mods in Use (for previous KSP v1.1.3)

Older Mods in Use (for previous KSP v1.0.5)


Let's get this show on the road now, ok?



The Hydrogen Flights

The "exploding barrels of fleas" were apparently not made of fleas, but were instead created to dispose of them. (Which might explain the fire and smoke.) As far as the geniuses in the engineering department could determine, the intent was to aim the open end of the barrel at the fleas and "watch them burn." The Boss thought of a different use after three interns and one such barrel flew violently through the wall of the lab and into the waters of Booster Bay. 

The little green geeks quickly dug around to find the parts they needed: gizmos to measure air pressure, a gumball machine painted a dark grey with a "computer" stuffed inside, a flea barrel to strap it all atop, and a large silk blanket to carry the gizmos safely back to the ground. The "computer" was little more than a couple of vacuum tubes and an alarm clock, all held together with loosely assembled wires. The clock was to ignite the flea barrel, trigger the gizmos and detach the gumball machine; the vacuum tubes were there to make it look awesome.

Lacking a clever naming scheme, The Boss painted "Hydrogen 1" on the side and the three formerly flying interns rolled it to a nearby mound of dirt. Only they must've messed up the clock while moving the H-1, as the flea barrel ignited late, flew off in a weird direction, and the gumball machine detached early. Regardless, the gizmos took proper readings and proved The Boss right: These barrels weren't built for killing fleas, but for helping them fly. Science points galore!


Somewhat unexpectedly, a representative from the Kerbal First Record Keeping Society showed up to give The Boss a few shiny plaques: First Launch, new Speed Records of 25m/s and 80m/s, and First Landing. The prize money was spent on some bags of corn chips and the interns were sent back to work. There was still time enough in the day for another launch. Same gumball machine with a big barrel of science (which had been previously tested on the mound), all atop yet another flea barrel. The Boss named it the "Hydrogen 2" and everybody lined up to watch it fly.


The H-2 flew higher and slightly faster than anything yet recorded (that one catapult accident doesn't count), resulting in yet more plaques from the record keepers: Altitude records of 500m and 2km. The money was just enough to buy some queso dip to go with the corn chips, and The Boss kicked in a few extra kerbucks for soda. 

And so on the first day they partied, and The Boss was happy, for The Boss saw it was good. 


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Edited by Cydonian Monk
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5 minutes ago, Parkaboy said:

Nice report! Can't wait to see what they find. I really like the archeological feel of recovering old saves!

Thanks! It'll take some... digging and scratching?... to get one of my older saves to work properly, but all I need to find is the ship or part that's causing issues (weird pop-up on the space center scene) and delete it. I might also need to wait for some things until 1.1, as at present when I load  my "everything to date" Unity save it eats up 700MBs of RAM..... ;)

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Hydrogen's Last Blast

The success of the first two Hydrogens led The Boss to order a couple more. They had enough flea barrels laying around the place anyway, so why not use them? They'd already proven too dangerous to use as card tables and pile drivers, and seemed to work quite well at flinging things upwards. 

The interns "found" a small stash of Umbra Space Industries experiment pods and sounding rockets in a nearby hobby store, and used the company's credit to buy up every last one of them. In no time they had taped a bunch of the experiments to the gumball machine, fitted it to a flea barrel, and let it fly. This time it flew faster and further (to the North) than any previous flight. Unfortunately it splashed down just a few meters into Booster Bay, ruining the clock they were using for automatic staging. 


No worries though, as the USI toy rockets included a small avionics package. (Which allegedly is just an alarm clock in a goldfish bowl, a minor upgrade.) Seeing an opportunity, the interns strapped one of the toy rockets to the top of a flea barrel and sent it flying. 

It failed miserably, only reaching a couple hundred meters (upwards), and the whole mess crashed into the dunes to the South.


"No more Hydrogen" said The Boss. "On to something better."

Noble Helium

That something better was Helium. Or, more specifically, liquid-fueled rockets. To bring order to the chaos that was the untamed herd of interns, The Boss hired on the "famous" rocket scientist Wernher von Kerman the XXVII. Twenty-seventh in a long line of very successful and mostly famous rocket scientists, this Wernher had been working for years to perfect his tiny Gustave "Version-2" rockets. And he was now convinced his V-2 could reach beyond the atmosphere of Kerbin and into the greater void. 

Helium 1, as such, was the first launch of Wernher's Version-2. (One of the interns asked what became of the first version and was assigned mop duty for the rest of the week. "Ve shall never speak of V-1 again, ja?") The sleek rocket was modified to include a small black and white TV camera, a transmitter to broadcast the picture, and a flag bearing the program's logo. (Can't forget the flag!)

As promised the He-1 slipped above the clouds, the birds, and even the bulk of the atmosphere. Lacking any telemetry data nobody was quite sure exactly how high it ventured, but estimates placed it above 150km. Most were glued to the small TV set in the tracking center, watching the grainy black and white image of their tiny planet spinning beneath the spacecraft. 



The Helium 1 burned up on reentry somewhere over the ocean. 

Wernher and The Boss hashed out an idea for sending experiments to space inside the next V-2, though neither were certain the experiments could return. ("Perhaps if ze kraft only goes vertically they vill survive reentry?") The experiment compartment was fitted into the elongated chassis of the He-2 with decouplers to blast it free from the doomed portions of the craft. To help with recovery it was packed with two parachutes: a drogue to bring it sub-sonic and a small toy chute from USI for final touchdown.  



The mission was a complete success. The tiny experiment package was recovered just West of the space center, dangling from a tree in front of the neighborhood fire station. The fire crews used it as an excuse to practice kitten tree rescues, though they seemed doubtful when informed the bits they "rescued" had been in space. ("Sure kid, whatever you say.")

Orbital Helium

The Boss was convinced they could use the V-2 and the USI toy rockets to place a small satellite in orbit. Yet another fishbowl packed with simple electronics, just this time it wouldn't come back down. Lacking a very long extension cord they had no way to supply power to a craft that high, but their calculations showed a small battery should keep the transmitter and clock active for at least two orbits. 

And so Wernher modified his Version-2 to include a mount point at the tip. He bolted down an adapter and slid the cardboard tube of the toy rocket into it. It was all wired so that as the craft neared apoapsis it would turn prograde, spin up, fire the small solid motor, and place the tiny satellite into orbit. Or so that was the plan.




It almost worked. The ascent was more shallow than intended and the resulting apoapsis after the first stage was barely above 50km. Still within the atmosphere, but high enough the solid motor was able to complete its mission. Legally just shy of "orbit", the fishbowl and its cardboard second stage reached an apoapsis of 229km and a periapsis of 46km. Enough to travel around Kerbin just once, breaking all sorts of records. (For some reason the previous Helium flights didn't count.) In the end it burned up over the Eastern Desert near Puerto Kabat, just short of reentering radio contact with the space center.

There were two options for Helium 4: Find a way to improve the ascent profile so the first stage would reach above 70km, or add more fuel and muscle over the line. The Boss decided to just add more fuel. Helium 4 was otherwise identical to its predecessor: fishbowl with an antenna atop a cardboard tube filled with boom atop a slightly larger liquid-fueled Gustave V-2. 


Success! The interns set up a small radio in the tracking station and were watching the spectrum around the frequency where the He-4 was set to broadcast on a nearby oscilloscope. Some 43 minutes after launch a weak signal appeared in a higher frequency, dancing across the scope to the left. A soft beep started to play on the radio and the room exploded into celebration. The radio operator watched as the signal continued to shift to lower frequencies until it finally disappeared. 



Calculations from the radio contact and ranging passes from the tracking station showed the He-4 had been successfully placed into a 70km by 462km orbit. The reps from the Worlds First society showed up with a huge stack of plaques and enough prize money to buy snacks for the rest of the year. 

The He-4 continued its soft beeping for nearly half a day, having been heard by kerbals all over the planet. (More than a few of which were confused as to why there was a beeping noise during their favorite song. Had the censors gone completely mad?) Finally, some five orbits later, its beep grew quiet, its battery exhausted, and that was that. 

Wernher had an epiphany during the celebration party. Just as he was dipping a chip into the extravagant River of Cheese, he wondered if he could somehow attach a computer to the next craft. A real computer, something more complex than an alarm clock, something able to tell crews on the ground where it was and what was going on. What any of that had to do with a tortilla chip parting the flow of molten cheese the world will never know....

The Boss had similar ideas. The two discussed automation, communications, and the prospect of sending a cactus into space. Both agreed the next step was to build a network of relay satellites so no spacecraft would ever be out of contact with the space center. The next step after buying more cheese for the Rio Queso, that is. 


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Edited by Cydonian Monk
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Sweet Lithium

The Helium 4 party was just wrapping up when the Wernher dragged the interns off to work on the next launch: Lithium 1. The Lithium Satellites were to be the first cogs in the communications machine that would unite Kerbin. (Or possibly untie Kerbin.) These tiny, 400 kg satellites were small enough for the LV-01 "V-2" launch vehicle, and included new, state of the art solar panels. All topped off by a simple antenna array for primary communications. 

The first three satellites were to be placed into slightly eccentric orbits with a periapsis just clear of the atmosphere and an apoapsis above 1000km, each offset from the others by 120º. Future launches could be scheduled during the dwell time at apoapsis for one of the satellites, providing simplistic over-the-horizon communications. (And it might allow KT&T to finally retire their aging can-and-string network.)

The Lithiums were all identical - small satellite attached atop an LV-01 and below a sounding rocket parachute that was doubling as a nose cone. Once the first stage had burned out the nosecone was kicked off, an antenna was deployed, and the first stage was explosively decoupled. (The fireworks were everyone's favorite part of the launch.)




The three launches were unremarkably successful, and in no time at all the kerbals were getting data from craft on the far side of the planet. Once all the prank trans-continental phone calls were complete the teams moved on to the next phase of Lithium: Polar communications. Two more identical launches, to the north and south, separated by 90º. These two polar Lithiums entered into 70km by about 400km orbits.


In another first, the two polar Lithium satellites included on-board telemetry in the form of an Engineering 7500 tape deck. The astrogator geeks were ecstatic about the ability to confirm the satellites were in their specific orbit and ran off to have a party of their own. Somebody in the tracking station amused themselves by broadcasting the space center's always balmy weather forecast to the kerbals in the frigid North.


Beryllium Spheres

What good are communications if you have nothing to talk to? The eggheads in R&D were chomping at the bit to send a couple science platforms into space for long-term observation. Two experiments would be included on the first pair of Beryllium probes: A simple thermometer, and a long, boom-like magnetometer device nicknamed Grabthar's Hammer. 

Similar in size and mass to the Lithium satellites, the first low-orbit Beryllium once again launch atop an LV-01 "V-2". The launch was completely routine, and in no time at all Grabthar was swinging his Hammer and sending data back to the space center. (The Boss was getting a bit worried about the sanity of the science department....)



The second Beryllium probe was identical to the first, but needed a new, more powerful launch vehicle to reach its higher orbit. Wernher experimented with combinations of the engine used on his V-2 fed from a larger diameter tank before ultimately adopting a new, more powerful engine: The LV-T45.



From its high perch, Grabthar's Hammer #2 was able to unlock mysteries of Kerbin's neato magnetosphere. 


A third Beryllium probe was hastily assembled by the science team, this time with the intent of testing a new method of direct communication: a dish. Wernher and The Boss both insisted they needed to test the dish before sending it deeper into space, and the third Beryllium presented the perfect opportunity.

The test was successful, but the intern assigned to photo duty that day instead decided to take pictures of the Sun. The Beryllium 3 later reentered and burned up over the Central Continent.

Boron To Be Wild

The Dish test was essential to proving the technology they would need to communicate with a satellite near the Mün. Getting a satellite to the Mün to use such a dish was another matter entirely. Wernher and the interns had spent several hours testing different combinations of rocket engines before they settled on a design.

The Boron 1's first stage would make use of a streamlined LV-02, similar to that used by the later Beryllium launches. The second stage, used to place the spacecraft into Kerbin orbit, would be driven by a low-power LV-15, while the spacecraft itself would use an even smaller engine to complete the Münar transfer (and hopefully capture) burns.

The Boron 1 was to include a set of folding solar arrays, which would hopefully be enough to power the dish while in the vicinity of the Mün. The size and complexity of the craft forced The Boss to build a new, larger VAB for the teams. (With the added benefit of finally patching the hole left in the VAB wall by the flea-barrel propelled interns.)



The launch and the transfer burn went exactly according to the noms, all that was left was the waiting. Noms being what the space center crews were into while waiting. The cheese dip had run out and all that was left were some stale corn chips (and nobody wanted to make a supply run with the first probe set to fly by the Mün), but bored and hungry kerbals will snack on anything.

A few hours later and the tracking station operator brought them the good news: Boron 1 was sending data from high Münar orbit! Within minutes the World's First record kerbals were bursting through the door with plaques and prizes, and The Boss was busy ordering pizza and fizzy pop for everyone. 




An hour or so later the radio operator grabbed The Boss, Wernher, and a few other kerbals and pulled them to an oscilloscope set up in the tracking station.

"So, I've been tracking an errant signal since we launched the Lithium relays. At first I thought it was from the surface, since the satellites would pick it up at a certain place over Kerbin every time. But then I saw a second one, and this time over the open ocean."

The Boss waved a chip at the scope the radio operator was showing them. "What does this have to do with the Mün, exactly?"

"Well, nothing really. Just the Boron 1 also picked up the signal while it was headed to the Mün. That gave me enough data to make some guesses as to where the transmitter was."

"Unnnn?" asked Wernher, while stuffing a pizza slice into his mouth.

"Here." The operator pulled up the map view, showing the Boron 1 orbiting the Mun, the five Lithium satellites, the Beryllium probes, the six moons of Kerbin, and a large debris cloud around Keo-Stationary Orbit.


"There are five active transmitters, all where you'd expect to find surface-stationary communications satellites. One parked directly overhead, two more within view of the space center, two more behind the planet. As you can see the Boron 1 is currently relaying through the one that's overhead."

The Boss looked over the map and pointed to the rest of the debris. "What about the other junk?"

"I haven't had the chance to scan it, and with the two small dishes we have now I doubt I'd find much anyway. Probably launched by whoever put these comms relays into orbit."

The Boss nodded, patted the radio operator on the shoulder and made for the door. "Ok folks, party's over. Time to go hijack some satellites!"


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Edited by Cydonian Monk
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47 minutes ago, Laythe Dweller said:

This is great! Maybe they'll find some Kerbs in orbit, still waiting for their snack resupply...


We'll see about any kerbals stuck in orbit. ;) No doubt a few will show up thanks to rescue contracts, and since I'm using TAC things might get interesting. Unfortunately, and unlike RemoteTech which is largely unchanged since I last used it in a main save, TAC is completely different. None of the supplies or modules left over in old ships worked in the latest version, so they got stripped out of what little I've already imported.

And who knows what else might be out there, forgotten in the endless void.....

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21 minutes ago, RocketSquid said:

Where do the V-2 parts come from?


Taerobee, one of Beale's mods: http://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/119858-104-taerobee-stockalike-x-1-and-more-2116092015bumper-release/

I had to tweak the RemoteTech config for the Taerobee probe cores, but otherwise it works just fine in 1.0.5. 

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The Age of the Universe

"So far," Macfred started, "we've only gained control the satellite parked directly overhead." Wernher and The Boss nodded, so the radio operator continued. "It calls itself KSO-CS G1-C, or at least that's what the diagnostics data it sends back says. Unfortunately it's not in very good shape."

"How so?"

"All of its reaction wheels have failed and near as we can tell it doesn't have an SAS module. It's mostly pointing in the right place, but it's only a matter of time. It's having serious problems keeping its batteries charged, and the heater often cuts out in Kerbin's shadow. We've told it to shut down one of the secondary dishes to save power, which might buy a few more years. Otherwise it's in good shape for a thirty-nine year-old spacecraft."

Wernher jumped to his feet, shocked. "Thirty-nine?! Mein geist!"

"That's not the best part. Based on the satellite's chronometer, we've determined our calendar is wrong. Today is the 102nd day of the 96th year, not the 17th year as previously suspected."

Wernher slumped back into his chair, speechless. The room was silent for a few moments until The Boss spoke. "We need to bring one of these older satellites back so we can study it. Perhaps figure out how they did things forty years ago. Anything else?"

"Well, nothing certain, but the three new dishes at the tracking center are very nice. Very sensitive. We think we're picking up a faint signal from the Orange Moon, and there's definitely something on the Spice Moon. We've started mapping the junk we're finding in orbit. Verly thinks a couple of the larger pieces might be kerbal-made."

"And what do you think?"

"I think we won't know anything until we send a kerbal up to take a look. Or something with a camera. We can only learn so much by listening to giant dishes."


Boron into the Mün

The Boron 2 was already built when the Boron 1 arrived in Münar orbit, so the R&D kerbs never had a chance to make adjustments based on its predecessor's discoveries. Namely its severe lack of delta-V. They did, however, decide to strap some fins on the side of the second stage to make it look cooler. 



Boron 2 had some trouble reaching LKO, but otherwise made its transfer burn to the Mün without any issues. The plan was to drop the B-2 in close to the Mün to collect a bit of science data. It would then burn into a highly elliptical orbit, burn again at apoapsis, and then become the first craft to crash into the Mün. 

The launch was timed so that the Boron 1 would be in the proper position to relay data from the Boron 2 while on the far side of the Mün. (Seeing as the kerbals have yet to invent kOS or any sort of useful autopilot.) There were a few minutes of uncertainty as the craft passed behind the largest of Kerbin's 6 moons, but it came back online just as it neared its periapsis.



Its small capture burn complete, the B-2 spent the rest of its trip to its high apoapsis sending experiment data back to the scientists on the ground. It burned the remainder of its fuel and crashed into the surface as planned. Unfortunately this crash occurred on the far side, out of view of any observers. 

There was yet another party, with fresh Moon Pies and KC Kola, but the World's First Society failed to show up. Apparently "crashing into the Mün at 800m/s" isn't one of their accepted milestones. Pity, because it left a rather impressive new crater.

Beryllium Relic

A fourth Beryllium probe was next. The GOREsat experiment had been waiting some time for its ride into high Kerbin orbit, and the scientists that prepared it were getting a bit anxious. And with the discovery of several large pieces of obviously not-natural objects orbiting the planet, Wernher was anxious to send up a craft with a camera. So the two projects merged and the GOREsat probe gained a black and white television camera.

The object chosen for fly-by while in transit to the satellites final 300km orbit was a large, apparently spindly thing Macfred had labeled 96-031. It was in a very clean 130km orbit, nearly 100km ahead of another large, equally spindly structure known as 96-037. (Most just called them "Thing A" and "Thing B.")

Strapped atop an LV-02 launch vehicle, the Beryllium 4 reached its orbit in good time and was set for a morning rendezvous with "Thing A." 


The black-and-white camera was turned on once the Be-4 was within 2 kms of the thing. The large spindly thing. It flashed past as the craft turned to make a final rendezvous burn, just a blur against the ground. And then, just as the engine cut off and the craft swung to face it....


... the World's First representative burst through the door with a new plaque and a new award. "First Rendezvous!" Everybody snapped up to see what the commotion was, then promptly ignored it and went back to the TV.

"What is that thing?", one intern asked.

"That's Thing A," another absent-mindedly responded. 

The bulk of the strange structure drifted slowly between the satellite and Kerbin. They counted five, odd shaped protuberances along the length of three "runners", each of which were connected to each other at one end and a central core at the other. No signs of life, no lights, no obvious means of communication. 


"No, really, what is that thing?"

"Looks like a skeleton."

"That's an anchor point," The Boss interjected. "A port in space, where other ships can tie down. At least 18 of them from the looks of it. And we need to send a crew up to check it out."

Wernher scratched at the back of his head for a moment. "Which means ve need to get a kerbal into orbit. I have an idea."

With the TV show over and the satellite drifting out of range, the operators cut the camera feed and instructed the craft to move to its final orbit. Once there the scientists were finally able to run their long-overdue irradiance experiment. Others were playing the grainy black and white video back as many times as they could, trying desperately to learn something about the strange skeletal structure in orbit.

Meanwhile the rest of the crew were inspecting the new plaque that had turned up during the height of the rendezvous. The prize money was good, the snacks it bought were better, and the buzz it created was unprecedented. Suddenly everybody wanted to go to space. 



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I like this mission report, it looks very promising.

If I understand correctly, each new generation of rockets is named after an element of the periodic table, so after the Boron rockets we'll see the Carbon rockets, right?

If I'm correct, I can't wait to see the Unun­octium-1!

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1 hour ago, Elowiny said:

If I understand correctly, each new generation of rockets is named after an element of the periodic table, so after the Boron rockets we'll see the Carbon rockets, right?

Correct, mostly. The naming has more to do with mission category than launch vehicle / rocket (ex: Be-1 used the same class of rocket as Li-5). And yes, Carbon is next. :)


1 hour ago, Elowiny said:

I like this mission report, it looks very promising.


If I'm correct, I can't wait to see the Unun­octium-1!

Thanks! We'll see about Uuo. Might be a while. ;) 

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Carbon Testing

It started out as a bet between two interns. ("I bet you can't design something that'll return safely from orbit!" "Oh yeah? Well I bet you can't design something that'll take a kerbal to space!") When it was all said and done, the two had built the largest and heaviest ball of metal in the history of the program. More massive than the Lithium rockets at takeoff. And now they needed a way to launch it. 

Expanding upon his earlier idea Wernher cooked up an engine cluster with four nozzles. A design that was more powerful than the LV-T45s used to launch the Boron probes. Yet even with its great power it was insufficient for launching this new space ball into orbit, so he strapped four of his V-2s on the side and called it a day. 

The Carbon was ready to fly.

Naturally they wouldn't launch such an untested craft with a kerbal aboard, doubly so since the program had zero astronauts. The test flight of the Carbon 0 would give them enough time to find six kerbals crazy enough to be strapped inside a cannonball and shot into orbit. 



The first flight went almost perfectly. Only hitch encountered was the communications system outstripping the ability of the electrical systems. Future flights would discard the heavy dish in favor of two small solar panels. The ballistic capsule got a bit warm on the ascent as well, prompting the engineers to change the altitude where the fairing ejected. 



Without a pilot, the reentry required trusting the deployment altitudes of the drogue and main parachutes. The capsule landed somewhere just East of K2 and West of the space center, and was recovered by a wandering band of goatherds. Goatherds who auctioned it off to the highest bidder and sent part of the proceeds back to the space agency.

The Carbon 6

With the test flight done it was time to announce the first round of test subjects for crewed spaceflight. Finding willing candidates was easy: there always seemed to be a line of them waiting outside the astronaut trailer. Figuring out which of them had the right stuffing to go with a turkey dinner was a different matter altogether. To make it easier The Boss hired an expert: Gene Kerman.

Gene came from a long line of managers, with his fifteenth grandfather having been the expert on kerbal motivation. His ancestors had stuck with it, even once the caste-restrictions on employment were lifted. He was the best and only choice for keeping a band of rookie astrokerbs in line. And for choosing them in the first place. 

And so, just a day after the C-0 landed, Gene buttoned up his cleanest white vest, shined his shoes to a mirror finish, and marched across the space center. Waiting for him in the hanger were the chosen six and the press to whom they would soon be introduced. The stage was dressed up, the crowd full of camera-toting journalists, and all eyes followed him as he walked to the podium.

"Glad you could join us here today." It was a short speech, because he knew folks were there to meet the soon to be astrokerbs. "Behind me are the best of the best, the luckiest of the few. Three of the best scientific minds of our generation and three of the most clever engineers. These, ladies and gentlekerbs, are your Carbon Six!"

"Rozor Kerman, Scientist and our Expert on Rocket Fuels. 
"Agake Kerman, Scientist and Former Intern. 
"Elkin Kerman, Scientist and Former Intern. 
"Verly Kerman, Engineer and Junior Radio Operator. 
"Sieta Kerman, Engineer and Junior Astrogator.
"Macfred Kerman, Engineer and Senior Radio Operator."

The applause continued for a few minutes, as did the camera flashes and the waves and smiles from the Carbon Six. Finally one of the journalists took the microphone to ask a question. "Wait, Gene, Mr. Kerman, weren't these kerbals already employed by the agency?"

"Yes, of course. Of all the candidates we interviewed, these six were the most capable and most willing. And as they were already on the payroll we weren't required to pay a recruiting fee or buy new life insurance policies."

"Ok, so who goes up first?"

All six of them looked at each other, then pointed at the kerbal to their left. "They do!" Every kerbal except for Macfred, that is, as he had only an empty stage to his left.

Carbon 1

Two days later and it was time to fly. "Shouldn't there be a training program of some sort?"

Guenter patted the top of Macfred's helmet as he finished strapping him in. "You know how to work the radio, yes?"

"You could say that."

"Good. You're all set! Happy trails, astrokerb!" At that the ship's hatch was closed, locked, bolted shut, taped over, and then glazed with a thin coating of sugar. The outer fairing hatch was sealed next, and then the ship made the long crawl to the launchpad. 

"You know," Guenter said to one of the junior VAB workers, "maybe we should build an access tower out at the pad."

An hour or so later and the Carbon 1 was ready for liftoff. There was a short hold-up as Gene and his flight controllers argued over who got which desk, with the arrangement ending up being somewhat arbitrary. A final check of the systems, one last check with the passenger, and Gene hit the big red button in the middle of his desk.


The ascent of the Carbon 1 went just a smoothly as the C-0. Macfred had found the radio by the time the strap-on V-2s were jettisoned, and relayed his impressions back down to the ground. And then the main engines cut off for the second time, and he was floating free.



The connection to the craft was relayed through two different satellites, but Macfred's voice came through loud and clear. "Yeah, I think we're in space now. My snack box is floating in front of me, spinning wildly. I'll take some pictures."

"Negative, C-1. Hold tight until final orbital insertion burn." Which was over and done almost before the sentence slipped out of Gene's mouth.



In total Macfred and the Carbon 1 spent over an hour in space, completing more than 2 orbits. There wasn't much to say about it, and oddly the World Firsts society once again didn't present any plaques or prizes. First Kerbal in Space? Did they do something wrong? Was it not official for some reason? No time to worry about it now, as the reentry burn came up on the checklist well before most would have liked.

The reentry corridor, though nearly identical to that of the C-0, ended up placing Macfred hundreds of kilometers in the middle of the ocean. There was some apprehension on the ground as they watched his capsule burn through the atmosphere over the space center. No radio transmissions were possible while the craft was so heavily enveloped in plasma, especially since there were no external antennas on the reentry part of the craft.



Macfred's voice crackled across the radio as soon as the drogue chute was out; he was using the low-powered walky-talky they had tossed in the capsule at the last minute. Both chutes unfurled and the still-warm capsule splashed safely into the Great Ocean, its occupant quickly jumping out to swim around in the water. Despite not receiving an award for being the first kerbal in space, he did get a plaque for the first EVA on Kerbin. So there's that.

Who needs a plaque when you get your very own ticker-tape parade through Kerbin City though? Or when they rename a street after you? No, to Macfred that was worth all the snacks and parties in the world. 

Even if he was just along for the ride, pushing buttons and operating the radio.


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On December 12, 2015 at 2:59:07 PM, Sanic said:

They should get the 39 year old satellite already.

At the moment I barely have the ability to launch anything as heavy as my old KeoSync satellites, let alone land one. I'll need to find a better solution.....


On December 12, 2015 at 1:15:40 PM, Laythe Dweller said:

I suspect that someone else *cough* Jeb *cough* already made it into space with their own fireworks.

Quite possibly. ;) As far as the game save knows Macfred should've been the first into space. It's a bit glitched I think. An "enter orbit around Kerbin" contract didn't pop with his flight or any of the previous orbital flights either, so it's either a glitch with Tantares (specifically the Vostok capsule) or something caused by pasting in old vessels. 


On December 11, 2015 at 9:31:33 AM, KAL 9000 said:


Tonight! ;) 


On December 12, 2015 at 11:27:11 AM, DMSP said:

Awesome, great job Macfred!

It's the most a wee lil' radio operator could do, methinks. At least he wasn't forced to parachute out before landing!


It's the busy crazy stressful season again but I'd like to get through Carbon and into Nitrogen and Oxygen before next Wednesday. We'll see. After finishing C-2 and C-3 the other night I still need ~50 science points to unlock the parts I want for Nitrogen and its new launch vehicle. This Engineering Tech Tree is nice but brutal now that rejecting contracts has a penalty. I may need to add on a couple of contract packs. 

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